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NYC Cultural Calendar: 10 Unmissable Art Events in Summer 2014
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NYC Cultural Calendar: 10 Unmissable Art Events in Summer 2014

Picture of Helen Armitage
Updated: 9 February 2017
The summer season of New York City’s cultural calendar is brimming with exciting events perfect for bright, sunny days and long, balmy evenings. From arts and culture festivals featuring concerts from top musicians and provocative dance performances, to free Shakespeare in Central Park and the new restaurant openings, the Big Apple will keep visitors and natives busy this summer.

Theatre | The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park

3 June – 17 August

A long-standing tradition in New York City, Free Shakespeare in the Park is brought to you by the Public Theater and was established in 1962 by the theater founder, the late producer and director Joseph Papp, who wanted to create an event that would make excellent theater accessible to everyone. Over the past 52 years, Free Shakespeare in the Park, which is held at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, has produced over 150 plays and attracted more than 5 million attendees, with past productions featuring actors such as Patrick Stewart and James Earl Jones. This year lovers of Shakespeare can see three-time Tony award winner Jack O’Brien’s production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing, starring Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater as Beatrice and Benedick, and his tragic tale of revenge King Lear, starring award-winning actor John Lithgow in the titular role.

Shakespeare in the Park, Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West, New York City, NY, USA, +1 212


Film | Lower East Side Film Festival

12 – 22 June

Now in its fourth year, the Lower East Side Film Festival has grown from humble beginnings in a pop-up theatre to being featured in publications like New York Magazine and Indiewire, attracting landmark venues and securing distribution for its filmmakers. Established in 2011, the festival seeks out what it calls ‘visionary low-budget films’ made by up-and-coming filmmakers with the purpose of giving the unsung trailblazers of independent film a platform while engaging with the Lower East Side community. Each year the festival recognises the best films screened with awards judged by the audience and industry professionals, which in the past has included actors Susan Sarandon and Willem Dafoe. Last year Chioke Nassor’s first feature film How to Follow Strangers – a tale of urban alienation in which a young man plots his own disappearance to see if anyone notices – scooped the Best of Fest Prix D’or award.

Venues across Manhattan’s Lower East Side


Lower East Side Film Festival
Courtesy Lower East Side Film Festival

Culture | Celebrate Brooklyn!

June – August

Founded in 1979, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of New York City’s longest-running, free outdoor festivals and in its 35-year history the event has hosted performances – ranging from music and dance to theatre and spoken word – by over 2,000 artists reflective of Brooklyn’s cultural diversity. Celebrate Brooklyn! was launched with the dual purpose of establishing a performing arts scene in Brooklyn while helping to regenerate the neglected Prospect Park, where much of the festival takes place, and has become one of the city’s most popular cultural attractions drawing in around 250,000 visitors each year. Music performances this year come from R&B sensation Janelle Monae and recently reformed bluegrass band Nickel Creek, while the festival’s dance parties, held at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, will include sets from Israeli electronic outfit Balkan Beat Box and DJ JD Samson.

Celebrate Brooklyn!, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA, +1 718 683 5600


Art | River to River Festival

19 June – 29 June

The 13th River to River Festival, the annual arts celebration, takes place over 11 days with 35 exciting, thought-provoking events from over 90 different artists. Featuring a range of activities – from provocative dance performances and art exhibitions to new media projects and social gatherings – the festival was designed to promote the creative community and cultural history of Lower Manhattan and takes places across the area’s public parks, riversides, and historical landmarks. The 2014 festival programme will include New York City-based Japanese choreographer Eiko’s Two Women, an experimental performance with young Tokyo-based dancer Tomoe Aihara that dismantles traditional male-female pairings in dance and surpasses geographic and age differences, and artistic duo carabello-farman’s installation The Signs of Paradise, which provides directions to each of America’s 50 towns named ‘Paradise’ – a reflection on the American Dream meaningfully placed close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Venues across Lower Manhattan


Art | The Mermaid Parade

21 June

Be a part of the world’s largest art parade at the 32nd annual Mermaid Parade – Coney Island’s yearly celebration of artistic self-expression, seaside culture and community pride. First held in 1983, the Mermaid Parade was founded with a three-fold mission – to celebrate the oceanic mythology and ‘honky-tonk’ culture of seaside resorts, give the city’s artists a platform for expression and create a sense of pride for an area often dismissed as just an amusement park. The procession of marchers, floats and antique cars will this year include muscle cars, the parade’s annual celebrity king and queen – yet to be identified, though past parade royalty has included the late, great Lou Reed and his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson – and music from legendary New York brass ensemble The Hungry March Band.

The Mermaid Parade, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA


Garry Winogrand
Garry Winogrand, New York World’s Fair, Gelatin silver print, The Garry Winogrand Archive, Centre for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona, 1964 | © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Photography | Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photography | Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

27 June – 21 September

The Metropolitan Museum presents a retrospective of the works of Garry Winogrand, the celebrated Bronx-born photographer who, armed with his camera and insatiable appetite to shoot, captured the cultural zeitgeist of post-war America. Born in 1928, Winogrand was a prolific photographer from the 1950s to the early 1980s, developing a staggering 20,000 rolls of film in his career that captured the essence of New York City and America life. Best known for work he produced in the 1960s, Winogrand photographed everyone from politicians and famous actors to hippies and everyday people on the streets, and is often lauded as a primary voice of that turbulent decade. The retrospective will feature over 175 of Winogrand’s iconic images and unseen prints, including his famed photography of the Metropolitan Museum’s centennial celebrations in 1969.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, New York City, NY, USA, +1 212 535 7710


More Info
Sat - Thu:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri - Sat:
10:00 am - 9:00 pm

Food | Arrogant Swine

Scheduled to open July/August

Arrogant Swine is a new, exciting restaurant concept created by Tyson Ho, a former financial research manager turned barbecue guru, set to open this summer in a large property on Morgan Street on Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg. Ho, who was trained in the art of North Carolina-style barbecue by the legendary master of pit-cooked whole hog barbecue Ed Mitchell, is the owner of the popular pop-up barbecue events ‘Hog Days of Summer’, which he held throughout the summer of 2013. Arrogant Swine will be the permanent home of this concept – a restaurant serving whole hog and country hams slow-smoked until perfectly tender and full of flavour, alongside refreshing craft beers and good blues music. Ho, who is on a mission to get New Yorkers hooked on North Carolina-style barbecue, has high hopes for Arrogant Swine, dubbing it a ‘church of pork’.

Arrogant Swine, 173 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA, +1 718 791 3842


NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial
Joseph Cavalieri, Jackie O in White, 2014, Silk-screened enamel kiln fired on stained glass, solder, LED lights, metal frame| Photo courtesy of artist

Art | NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial at MAD Museum

Art | NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial at MAD Museum

1 July – 12 October

NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial is a new event celebrating creative individuals and communities across New York City, organised by the MAD – the Museum of Art and Design. The inaugural biennial, which is the first exhibition to be organised under the tutelage of MAD’s new director Glenn Adamson, will be a showcase of around 100 makers and creators who apply their innovation, skills, and workmanship to creative inventive objects ad concepts. From internationally known greats to emerging talents, Adamson and MAD exhibition curator Jake Yuzna have selected the very best in disciplines that include fashion, architecture, art, film and design with exhibitors including New York-based Japanese installation artist Ei Arakawa, artist and design collective CONFETTISYSTEM and The Metropolitan Opera set designers, known for their elaborate sets.

MAD Museum, 2 Columbus Circle, New York City, NY, USA, +1 212 299 7777


More Info
Tue - Wed:
10:00 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri - Sun:
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Culture | Lincoln Center Festival

7 July – 16 August

The Lincoln Center Festival, held annually since 1996, was established with the aim of expanding the centre’s cultural programme and activities by bringing audiences a range of exciting productions that they couldn’t see elsewhere. A key component of the festival is to bring to the city eclectic and multicultural performances that showcase talent from outside Western culture; over the years, it has represented artists from over 50 countries, including Vietnam’s Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The 2014 festival will see the return of the Haisei Nakamura-za Theatre’s Kaiden Chibusa no Enoki, a 19th century Japanese ghost story first performed at the festival in 2004, three performances – Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Spartacus – from the Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra, and the North American premiere of the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Maids, starring Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert.

Venues across Manhattan


Art | Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness at MOMA

27 July – 2 November

The Museum of Modern Art presents Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness – the first-ever retrospective of the 35-year long career of one of today’s most significant American photographic artists. Born in 1956, Williams was educated at the California Institute of the Arts under leading figures of the West Coast Conceptualism movement, including Douglas Huebler and Michael Asher, eventually becoming a respected professor of conceptualism and photography himself at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Williams’ work is a critique of neo-capitalism concerned with the history of photography and themes of film, architecture, and design. The Production Line of Happiness will feature his little-known Super-8 shorts, significant projects from the 1980s and 1990s including SOURCE (1981), which explores subversion of photojournalism, and his magnum opus For Example: Die Welt ist schön (The world is beautiful) (1993 – 2001) – an exploration of modernity and modernisation.

MOMA, 11 West 53rd Street, New York City, NY, USA, +1 212 708 9400


By Helen Armitage